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Review: Atomic Accomplice: How Canada deals in deadly deceit


McKay, Paul. Atomic Accomplice: How Canada deals in deadly deceit. 2009. Canada.

“‘Follow the money’ is an axiom at the heart of investigative journalism…This book follows the atoms. Or more precisely, it audits the trail of Canadian fissile elements, sensitive materials, reactor sales and laboratory secrets which have abetted the global proliferation of atomic and hydrogen bombs.”

Journalist Paul McKay has done his homework and reveals all in this comprehensive but easy to read exposé of our nuclear history. Add another bag of nails to the coffin of Canada’s image as “a nice peace loving country”. (Yves Engler in his recent work: The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy fills us in on what else Canada has been up to over the last many decades & now.)

Every prime minister from Mackenzie King unto today’s Harper, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Lester Pearson, has enthusiastically embraced our participation in the nuclear club. In fact I remember that when Pearson won his election one of his first acts was to allow Bowmarc missiles to be secretly trucked into Canada from the USA; a homecoming for Canada’s uranium. They were placed at least 3 bases in Canada and were supposedly removed when more advanced delivery systems were developed.

It started in 1942 when we joined (ever the willing junior partner) the Manhattan Project and supplied the uranium for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It did not end there and Canada is today the world’s #1 exporter of uranium, providing material for the proliferation of nuclear weapons. McKay explains that the ‘peaceful atom’ is a lie; nuclear (once called “too cheap to meter”) power has always been the expensive, subsidized and nasty form of energy which is the source of weapon-grade uranium and plutonium. Every year we export enough uranium to eventually produce enough uranium and plutonium to make 5000 bombs. Plutonium is manmade by fission – it is the world’s deadliest element. Only a plum-sized piece is needed to make a bomb.

“Plutonium=forever.” Even if bombs are not made, plutonium goes on and on emitting deadly radiation for centuries.

“… ‘following the atoms’ proves that we are a boy-scout nation with a very dirty secret. It has been underwritten by $30 billion taxpayer dollars, greased with secret bribes to win export deals, and buried in decades of deceit by official Ottawa.”

Our uranium and nuclear technology launched the UK and USA stockpiles, then the Indian nuclear arsenal, followed by Pakistan and others. We continued to sell our CANDU reactor for ‘peaceful energy use’ which was secretly described as a “military plutonium production reactor” by the insiders ever since the Manhattan Project.

Uranium mines in northern Saskatchewan are at present the world’s richest source of uranium – the major mining companies operating there are French. France has the bomb as we all know, tested on the occupied land of the people of the South Pacific. In 1948 the new government of Israel went after nuclear technology and found a willing partner in France. Although Israel promised it was for peaceful use, it built the bomb; whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu (he spent 18 years in prison & is in and out of prison all the time) says Israel has 200 nuclear bombs.

McKay writes: “Goldschmidt would later recall the Israeli nuclear appeal form Bergmann and Peres: They came and said they’d like to buy a heavy water research reactor similar to the one Canadians were building in India. They said when the Americans realize we have the nuclear (weapons) capacity, they will give us the guarantee of survival.” Goldschmidt was a plutonium scientist who worked in Montreal during the war & later married into the Rothschild dynasty. Bergmann was a scientist who worked for UK defense department and at that time Peres was Ben-Gurion’s young protégé. So- on we go – Canada, instead of spreading peace and cooperation around the world, continues to profit from deadly war preparations. This is without even getting into the toxic results of mining, transport, storage and the unsolved problem of radioactive waste containment.

It is true that the USA and Russia have agreed to reduce their nuclear weapons stockpile; they still have enough to destroy life on earth. And after decades when no new nuclear reactors were built, there is a new slogan and new pressure to provide a technological fix for global warming– that nuclear power is clean, has a low carbon footprint and can replace petroleum-based energy. McKay does the research and the math and shows that this is impossible and nuclear is just as toxic as burning petroleum.

So what is the solution? McKay devotes the last and most important part of his book to showing that capturing the constant reliable power of the sun can resolve many of our problems – along with political will, real peace making and genuine conservation and cooperation. Maybe our children and grandchildren will have a better world than we can possibly foresee – but we must dream and work for this better future for all.

When you have read this review do check out (better yet, subscribe to) BC’s only environmental magazine Watershed Sentinel. See the March/April 2010 issue’s article, “Radioactive Waste in Canada.


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